Pope calls for Christian, Muslim understanding


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Pope Benedict XVI celebrated Mass in Amman, praising the Catholic minority for its perseverance and calling for more understanding between Christians and Muslims.

Speaking to more than 25,000 people Sunday morning at a soccer stadium in the Jordanian capital, the pope encouraged Christians and Muslims to oppose terrorism.

"Muslims and Christians, precisely because of the burden of our common history, so often marked by misunderstanding, must today strive to be known and recognized as worshipers of God, faithful to prayer, eager to uphold and lift by the almighty decrees," Benedict said.

Benedict was scheduled later in the day to visit the East Bank of the Jordan River, where Jesus is said to have been baptized.

On Saturday he visited Mount Nebo, from where the Bible says Moses saw the Land of Israel. The pope said the site was a reminder of “the inseparable bond between the Church and the Jewish people.”

"May our encounter today inspire in us a renewed love for the canon of sacred scripture and a desire to overcome all obstacles to the reconciliation of Christians and Jews in mutual respect and cooperation in the service of that peace to which the word of God calls us," he said.

Benedict also visited the King Hussein bin Talal Mosque in Amman. He did not remove his shoes while visiting the mosque and engaged in silent reflection rather than prayer, according to reports.

In a meeting there with Muslim leaders, the pope called for a "trilateral dialogue" including the Church to help bring Jews and Muslims together to discuss peace.

Benedict will leave Jordan and arrive in Israel on Monday morning.

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